If you’ve heard even one note of [artist id="1191782"]Muse’s[/artist] new album, The Resistance — or if you saw their roof-blowing performance at the VMAs — you know that the English trio are far from understated.
Muse are stadium-rocking superstars in Europe. They go for the big idea with a gargantuan sound that melds the theatrical flair of Queen with the symphonic filigrees of 1970s prog rock and a healthy dose of the electronic-rock quirks of the band they’re most often compared to, Radiohead.
But Muse, who are contributing a remix of The Resistance song “I Belong to You” to the soundtrack of the upcoming “Twilight” sequel “New Moon,” had some new ideas for their fifth album, which they said is their most personal work to date.
“I think it’s quite a departure from what we’ve done in the past,” drummer Dominic Howard said. “There’s lots of different styles of music that we tried out. There’s different styles of music that we feel like we’ve never come across before. And, well … we’ve got a big symphony on there. It’s a three-part symphony right at the end of the album, which is this very kind of, like, ambitious, very orchestral huge piece of music which is a pretty hard task to take on, but ended up sounding great.”
Howard was speaking of “Exogenesis,” which is, indeed, a three-part symphony complete with an “Overture,” a second act called “Cross-Pollination” and a finale called “Redemption.” With swelling, dramatic strings and classical piano runs worthy of Chopin or Rachmaninoff, operatic vocals and searching lyrics about escaping the bounds of earthly gravity, the songs are indeed beyond ambitious, which is nothing new for a group of guys who have been forthright about their desire to conquer the globe with their Cinemascope sound.
“I think the structure of the album has a mild, loose narrative … which is something different to what we’ve done before,” frontman Matthew Bellamy explained. “I wouldn’t say it’s a pure concept album, but it’s definitely got a few themes which go throughout. Themes like revolution, uprising, wanting political change, constitutional reform … as well as a sort-of, kind-of love story developing in the midst of all that.”
Bellamy said the album is a kind of musical companion to “1984,” the classic George Orwell novel about a lone man’s rebellion against a controlling totalitarian government. But, despite those far-reaching, worldly themes, Howard said that at its heart, The Resistance, which was produced by the band, is really a personal statement. “We did a song called ‘Undisclosed Desires,’ which is very kind of programmed and much more electronic-sounding than anything we’ve ever done before,” he said. “And we produced it all by ourselves as well, so I think for that it sounded very, very personal and also gave us a chance to feel very comfortable to experiment with all these ideas and … you know, somehow we finished it.”